After recently becoming the focus of a money-laundering probe Australia’s Crown Resorts is once again in the news. Two Crown-branded casinos allowed an Indonesian man to gamble millions of dollars at their assets, according to the country’s ABC News. Per se this wouldn’t be newsworthy, but the guy is the arms dealer Joseph Wong Kiia Tai, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the country.
Kiia Tai is related to Charles Taylor, a ruthless Liberian warlord who later became the president of that state. He also allegedly arranged for the shipment of thousands of weapons to Taylor’s forces, which placed him on a list of sanctions from the United Nations (UN) that should have prohibited him from travelling amongst other restrictions.
Notwithstanding his high-profile status, Kiia Tai was able to spend $6 million from 2004-2015 on Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth on separate occasions after the sanctions were imposed.
The businessman was the founder of the Oriental Timber Company, which was given the right to log about one-quarter of the rain-forests of Liberia–one-sixth of what is found throughout the African continent.
He reached a deal with Taylor to supply him with arms instead of paying taxes on the timber as the warlord tried to fight a civil war with Liberia’s neighbour, Sierra Leone. Over 150,000 people were killed during that battle, including innocent women and children.
Previously, Crown came under fire to circumvent government controls to bring VIPs to the country, bypassing existing background checks. It was accused of not adequately testing its gamblers, a statement that the news report seems to support.
Australia’s Home Affairs Department told the media outlet that it was aware of the criminal’s visits to the casinos, adding that it “thoroughly investigates instances of misuse of the visa system and takes action to mitigate against further occurrences, where appropriate.”
Given the recent charges of money laundering, reports of gambling machine hacking, alleged links to companies that could be connected to various mafias, and now the argument that it allows war criminals to access their casinos, Crown continues to face an ever-increasing pile of negative public relations nightmares. It’s no wonder that to save his mental health, James Packer had to step down from the company.